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Advanced Wind Energy Test Facility Makes a Move

Sandia National Laboratories is moving its wind energy test facility to Texas Tech.

Written by Chris Cook

The test facility will house turbines similar to these. Photo Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

The test facility will house turbines similar to these. Photo Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

Texas Tech, Sandia National Laboratories and Group NIRE will operate a facility that will primarily perform research and development (R&D) work in turbine-to-turbine interactions and will evaluate innovative rotor technologies. The facility is expected to be operational sometime in the spring of 2012. The parties will finalize their contractual relationships over the next few months.

“We have been looking to expand our federal collaborations in wind energy and this is the first such opportunity for Texas Tech University. I could not be more proud of our work to establish this collaborative partnership,” said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance. “This adds further value to our recent Emerging Technology Fund award from the state of Texas in wind energy. Texas Tech is on the move!”

A Powerful Partnership

Guy Bailey, president of Texas Tech said, “This is wonderful news for Texas Tech to be able to host a national laboratory R&D facility here that allows for long term R&D collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy. This is a great opportunity for our faculty and our students.”

The site, to be located at Texas Tech’s 67-acre wind science and engineering research facility at Reese Technology Center, includes an initial installation of two wind turbines and three anemometer towers, with the potential to expand to nine or more wind turbines, which will allow researchers to examine how individual turbines and whole wind farms can be more productive and collaborative.

“This a fabulous opportunity for Texas Tech University and all that we do in wind energy,” said Taylor Eighmy, Texas Tech’s vice president for research. “It is very special indeed to have a long-term, collaborative research and development partner like Sandia National Laboratories. The impact of this facility and collaboration will be immense for us. We look forward to a long and beneficial relationship with our federal partner.”

The work builds on Texas Tech’s more than 40-year history in wind science research.

“This is an exciting project for Texas Tech,” said John Schroeder, director of Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE).  “The combination of capabilities offered by Sandia National Laboratories, Group NIRE and Texas Tech provides a powerful partnership for future wind energy research and technology transfer.  We look forward to working closely with our partners to bring the facility online later this year.”

Quality Wind

Potential wind farm and wind research sites fall into classes of one through five, with class five winds being the preferred wind for research and for harvesting energy. However, only a small percentage of available sites are class five. Winds vary year-round and change seasonally, so the site needed to be carefully characterized to ensure year-round quality wind for rapid evaluation of technologies.

“We looked for a location that not only had a great wind resource, but also had a true commitment to wind energy; the partnership with Texas Tech does just that,” said Jon White, Sandia project lead.

Group NIRE will provide direct pathways for technology transfer to industry and install additional megawatt-scale wind turbines at an adjacent site for testing and collaboration.

Group NIRE is a clean energy company providing project development, finance and consulting services. It is currently developing wind projects in six states and working with several international renewable energy component manufacturers to commercialize new products and technologies.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is funding Sandia’s work. Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory with main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif. Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

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Featured Expert
John Schroeder

John Schroeder is a professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and is director of the National Wind Institute.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.

National Wind Institute
National Wind Institute

National Wind Institute (NWI) is world-renowned for conducting innovative research in the areas of wind energy, wind hazard mitigation, wind-induced damage, severe storms and wind-related economics.

NWI is also home to world-class researchers with expertise in numerous academic fields such as atmospheric science, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, mathematics and economics, and NWI was the first in the nation to offer a doctorate in Wind Science and Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy.

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